Wayne Rooney has revealed he is doing “a lot of things behind the scenes” since becoming the senior figure of a four-man interim management team at Derby.
Derby captain Rooney is currently collaborating in a foursome with coaches Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker to lead training and decide team selection following Philip Cocu’s dismissal.
He has previously expressed his desire to take the Derby job full-time but Sky Sports News does not expect a decision will be made until the takeover by Abu Dhabi royal family member Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is completed.
The impending deal should be finalised by the end of the month and has been approved by the English Football League, with Derby currently sat bottom of the Sky Bet Championship following Saturday’s defeat to Bristol City.
“I wouldn’t be sat here if I didn’t think I was ready to take it on,” striker Rooney told a press conference on Monday, reiterating his readiness for a management position. “There’s a lot more to the role than preparing the team.
“I have to do a lot of things behind the scenes and I am comfortable and fine doing that.
“We did all the prep on Friday evening and after the last meeting I focused solely on being a player. I need to be fair to myself, the player. To be fair I’m pretty good at switching off when I need to.”
Quizzed on if he would continue his playing career at the age of 35 if he were to be given the manager’s job, Rooney replied: “That isn’t even on the table at the minute.
“I need to focus on playing and preparing the team so I don’t have time to focus on anything else like that. I’ve not been given any idea as to how long the other three coaches will be in these roles.”
The Rams’ new prospective owners have already held virtual talks with club CEO Stephen Pearce, current owner Mel Morris and the interim coaching staff.
Their immediate task will be turning around Derby’s fortunes with the club winning just one game from their first 12, following a 10th-placed finish last season.
“We are a lot better than we have shown and the biggest thing we need to improve is confidence,” Rooney added. “We need to make the players understand their quality. We saw an improvement on Saturday even though we lost.
“The team were getting into the final third a lot more. If you walked into the canteen or the dressing room you wouldn’t think we are sat bottom of the Championship. I’ve seen a big lift in the players this last week.”
Derby next face Middlesbrough in the Championship on Wednesday night at the Riverside Stadium with Rooney and co testing themselves against Neil Warnock’s side.
Analysis: Who is the next man to lead Derby? Rooney, Rafa?
Sky Sports pundit Keith Andrews was a guest on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast, discussing Derby’s current situation and their search for a new manager.
He believes that Rooney expects to be the next manager at the club, but also fails to understand why a shock named linked with the job – Rafa Benitez – would want a move to the club.
“I have no doubt Wayne Rooney expected to be the manager after Phillip Cocu’s reign ended. In terms of how it works out now, I’m not sure,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to be a player-manager now. I was a player-coach and I couldn’t do it. There is so much that goes on away from the pitch, and when you’ve finished training and with the time it takes it’s actually impossible to do. He needs to make a decision about going one way or the other.”
“Then there is Liam Rosenior. We’ve all worked with him and he’s such a clever, astute young man and coach who will no doubt want to go on and manage. How would it work between them? Because he wants to be a coach, too.
“With the takeover lingering in the background as well it remains to be seen what type of manager they want. I don’t think it will be Wayne Rooney, I think they’ll go a different route.
“It’s a no-brainer if [Rafa Benitez] he has shown any inclination to come and manage your football club. He is a serious operator with a proven CV, he’s tactically astute and knows the industry inside-out. He’s even got Championship promotion on his CV after sticking with Newcastle.
“But why would Rafa Benitez take Derby County? I just can’t see that one.”